The Taliban yesterday released a video of two professors from the American University of Afghanistan who were abducted at gunpoint in Kabul in August. The video comes as the first public confirmation by the insurgents that they were holding the two westerners.
The Taliban released the 13-minute video months after an unsuccessful Navy SEAL raid in eastern Afghanistan to rescue the professors. The video showed Timothy Weeks, an Australian, and Kevin King, an American, pleading with their governments to cooperate with the Taliban for the release of insurgent prisoners in exchange for their freedom.
''We have been here for a while and we haven't heard anything,'' said King, 60. ''We ask you to put pressure on the American government and the university to talk more to the Taliban to arrange an exchange.''
The American University issued a statement from its acting president, David Sedney, saying: ''We call on the Taliban to release immediately and safely Kevin and Tim and all other hostages. Kevin and Tim came to Afghanistan as teachers, to help Afghanistan. These innocent people have done nothing to harm anyone and need to be reunited with their family, friends and colleagues.''
Addressing the two men, he added: ''Our thoughts and prayers are with you constantly. We will not rest until you are back safely with us.''
The two men were abducted by gunmen wearing police uniforms from the American University of Afghanistan in the heart of the Afghan capital on 7 August. They seized the two from their vehicle after smashing the passenger window.
Australia said today that it "has been working closely with other governments to secure the release.'' The Australian government did not elaborate citing Weeks' family's wishes and safety concerns.
According to commentators, the abductions highlighted the growing dangers faced by foreigners in Afghanistan.